Why I Will Not Watch the Joker or Movies Like It (and Neither Should You)

Should you be tempted, there are several reasons not to see the newly-debuted Joker (or movies like this one). I’m sure that if I were to watch it, I could offer a hundred more. (And while some choose to be the filter for others by watching movies like this one and warning them of the content therein, I would suggest that Spirit in us as Christians is the better “filter,” leading us not to watch this kind of thing to begin with. Cf. Galatians 5:16–26.)

Here are at least three reasons not to watch the Joker:

First, Hollywood has no design for your edification as a Christian. This is said for even “better” movies that seem to have fewer objectionable scenes and themes for your mind’s consideration. To intentionally put one’s mind for 120 minutes towards a movie that entertains and climaxes on one sinful moment after another seems to be anything but obedience to passages such as Romans 12:1–2 and Philippians 4:8.

Second, it offers as entertainment the very violence it says that the film is supposed to condemn. One is supposed to abhor the violence that makes a man into being the villainous Joker. But then the movie is said to revel in his revenge through violence upon those trod him down. I read in the news that the lead actor left an interview because he was asked if the movie actually promoted the very violence that it says to condemn. He apparently didn’t know how to answer the question. Besides this actor’s naively playing such a role and apparently (at least initially) not being able to care less as to what impact his production has upon you as the viewer, the very fact that the question was asked betrays that the answer is, incidentally at best and intentionally at worst, yes. In the end, yes, you as the viewer will be tempted or told to glory in the Joker as he robs the Lord of vengeance and sinfully retaliates against his aggressors.

Third, there are better ways of redeeming the time before the coming of our Lord (cf. Ephesians 5:15–16). Do something intentionally Christian. Or enjoy the natural things of this world with a view to glorifying God in His creation. Read a good book. Spend some time with your family. Or at the least, for the few that are out there, maybe just choose a movie that has some wholesome qualities.

What I’ve said of the Joker above could be said for thousands of movies besides. Please know I write these things as one Christian to another and as a pastor who simply desires that we glory in what is truly worth our affection. Whether we eat or drink or watch a movie, we should do all to the glory of God, but only in a manner that is truly glorifying to Him.

More Thoughts on Watching TV

Philippians 4:8 is a key verse that defines for us how we should use our minds: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Stated in opposite terms, when it comes to watching TV, we should not fill our heads with what is false, dishonorable, unjust, impure, unlovely, condemnable, lacking excellence, and has no reason for praise. We must seek to shape our minds by what is pleasing to God.

From last week, we also saw that we should “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14). If we know that we could fall into sin in a given situation, we should avoid that situation.

This being said, when it comes to watching TV (daily TV or movies), we should plan in advance to know what we can about whatever show or movie we hope to watch.

Daily TV

Regularly use your channel guides to read the descriptions in advance, check the ratings (which are not perfect), and avoid content that would provoke you to feed your sinful passions or absorb the values of the world.

Movies

While it is questionable as to whether or not a Christian can constantly review movies and not be affected by the negative elements they see and hear, several Christian websites nonetheless regularly post movie reviews and identify the negative elements in these movies. Reading a 30-second review before watching a 2-hour movie might save you and your family a lot of trouble. Here are some of these websites:

www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/home.html

www.movieguide.org

www.pluggedin.com/movies.aspx

Some Thoughts on Watching TV

The average American has two or three TVs in the home, or maybe less because he has a computer, smartphone, tablet PC, or some other means of watching movies and TV shows. (All this viewable media will be referred to as TV from this point on.) “According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.”* Though much more could obviously be said, here are some thoughts to guide us through something that is part-and-parcel of our American culture and everyday life.

Like any other wholesome activity in life, we can watch TV to the glory of God. One of the reasons that God created this world was for us to enjoy the good things He has given us (Ecc 2:24–26). Assuming the viewing content is wholesome, we can watch TV to the glory of God by being thankful for the pleasure of doing something enjoyable (cf. 1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17).

Moderate how much time you spend watching TV. A daily average of 4 hours of TV is hardly “making the best use of the time” (Eph 5:16). “Making the best use of time” means recognizing that our present age is evil and passing away and using our time for the will of God instead (Eph 5:15–17). We glorify Him through the church and by making disciples (Matt 28:18–20; Phil 3:20–21), which means seeking to use our time for others and not ourselves (Mark 10:45), even if all we can do is pray (cf. 1 Tim 5:5).

Never watch anything for the purpose of enjoying the sin of others. TV often displays the sins of others for the purpose of entertainment (even the news, sometimes!). God is displeased when we watch and enjoy acts of immorality (Matt 5:28), gratuitous violence (Ps 11:5), or whatever else the sin may be. “He who walks righteously . . . shuts his eyes from looking on evil” (Isa 33:15).

Plan what you are going to watch ahead of time. Paul commands us to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14). When it comes to watching TV, we should plan ahead of time to avoid watching things that will provoke us to lust.

Transform your mind with Scripture. Spiritual transformation begins with “the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2; cf. Eph 4:23) which means actively meditating upon biblical truth. If we constantly watch TV that promotes sin or simply ignores the things of the Lord, our minds are being transformed, but not by Scripture.

*http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html#tv_stats. Accessed 6 Dec 2013.